Basque translation in the structure of Basque literary historiographies
Miren Ibarluzea Santisteban

Research Group MHLI (IT 1047-16, Eusko Jaurlaritza & US 17/10, UPV/EHU)
University of Basque Country (UPV/EHU)

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Received: September 13, 2017
Accepted: December 11, 2017

1. Introduction

In each period of time and in each language community, translation has been assessed in different ways. But there is no doubt that translations have existed and have fulfilled a specific purpose. To investigate the way in which each time and society have influenced translation, various sources can be taken into consideration, including translators’ correspondence, criticism, language teaching methods, and treatises on translation (D’Hulst 1995, 17). The history of literature also provides a wealth of sources, and that is why we have examined some of the historiographies that have established Basque literature.

In this paper, our source for the study of the representations of translation has been historiographies of Basque literature. There have been several reasons for this choice: firstly, in this type of work other works tend to be systematized; secondly, instead of looking only at one specific time or work, they tend to look at the field of literature in its entirety; and, thirdly, from decade to decade, various authors have written various historiographies and there has been a certain amount of development, so the evolution of the representations can be analyzed.

Our main goals in examining the presence of translation in historiographies of Basque literature through time have been as follows: a) to identify, examine, and classify modes of discourse about translation history in literary historiographies; b) to consider the space and function that translation has occupied in the structure of Basque literature; and c) to take note of the evolution of the representation of translation.

Therefore, we have endeavoured here to answer questions about historiography, such as: are translations mentioned in histories of Basque literature? Is it specified that they are translations? Why would that be? Does it have anything to do with the habitus of the creator of the historiography? Are translations over- or underestimated? What criteria should be followed? Is there any justification for including translated works in the field of literature? How do writers of historiographies justify their inclusion? From one time period to another, does the presence of translation change in historiographies by the same author? Does the presence of translation change from historiography to historiography? According to what criteria?

Historiographies have also undergone a process of evolution throughout the process of autonomisation of literature (Casenave 2012), and we have tried to show how the representations of translation have changed throughout the above-mentioned evolution.

2. A few details regarding narratives about translation, the arena afforded to translation by literary history and our purpose

According to Rubio Tobar (2013, 247), very little space has been devoted to translation in literary histories; indeed, translation has been taken as a phenomenon associated with language, rather than as a phenomenon associated with literature. Apparently, this has come about because literary histories have been written from the point of view of the literatures of monolingual language environments; that is, they have been guided by romanticism and nationalism, because histories have been firmly based on the trinity of language-literature-nation. Moreover, references to translations have been included in historiographies as supplements to authors’ works (Rubio Tobar 2013, 250). We plan to take a look at those references: does translation occupy a place in historiographies of Basque literature? Do translations appear as supplements to the works of the authors mentioned?

In the chapter entitled “La traducción se hizo historia” of the work Literatura, historia y traducción (2014), Rubio Tobar states: “No se debe juzgar la validez de una traducción por su fidelidad al original” (112). We agree with this idea, both when we talk about translation and when we talk about historiography. Indeed, in keeping with the tendencies Rubio Tobar describes as follows: “Uno de los grandes aciertos de los historiadores actuales de la traducción es que juzgan menos, y describen y explican más. Se afanan por saber qué se tradujo y qué no, cómo se tradujo (y abrevió o amplió un texto) y por qué razón” (idem), our purpose is not to appraise, but to consider the use of references to translations in order to reveal discourses about translation, and in order to look at their evolution, with the aim of complementing the history and the historiography of Basque translation. We share Rubio Tobar’s ideas, in that our goal is not “to do justice”, but to describe, understand, analyze and recount (2013, 250).

Nevertheless, recalling Pym’s words (1998, 11), we take great care regarding the focus of our investigation; in fact, our aim is not simply to offer a collection of items about translation. In order to examine what has been done to date in a certain field, it is essential to ask questions about the method that was used to achieve what has been achieved to date (idem). We would like to underline that discourses must be situated, because all discourses are subject to outside influences: “Il convient de souligner une nouvelle fois l’importance du facteur contextuel, puisqu’en histoire des idées, des jugements de valeur n’ont pas, avec leur objet, un lien détaché de toute influence externe” (D’Hulst 1995, 27). We must focus on those who have written about Basque translation: who wrote, when, and under what influences, that is, what kind of translation- and research-habitus did the discourser have. We would like to answer the following questions: according to what criteria do historiographers classify literature- and translation-events? And according to what type of capital do they evaluate translations? There are many, many questions that we can ask about a work on translation history: who wrote the translation history? According to what critical criteria? Is all the information presented necessary? It is enough? What guides the hypotheses? Why are some translators mentioned, but not others? How is translator defined? Who are considered to be translators? (idem).

In order to answer such questions, we need to classify the historical data about translation, and that is why we recall Pym’s work Method in Translation History (1998, 5-6), where the author attempts to define translation history and then distinguishes its subfields: translation archaeology, historical criticism, and explanation. Translation archaeology is a set of discourses that answer the following questions fully or partially: who, what, how, where, when, for whom, and for what purpose did translation occur? Thus, the field includes catalogues about translators’ biographical research (Pym 1998, 5). With respect to the field known as historical criticism, it is a set of discourses, specifically, the set of discourses about the way in which translations help or hinder development. In any case, we must tread carefully here as well, without forgetting that we study it from the point of view of the present: “Rather than decide whether a translation is progressive for us here and now, properly historical criticism must determine the value of a past translator’s work in relation to the effects achieved in the past” (idem). Explanation, on the other hand, is the field of history that seeks to explain why historical artifacts occurred, as well as how they are associated with change or development. This classification is useful to categorize discourses about translation that have appeared in historiographies of Basque literature.

Quite a number of researchers have felt the need to write a history of translation, from many of the different points of view developed in translation studies: “New conceptual tools provided by scholars working from a variety of theoretical perspectives have made it possible, and even imperative, to write the history of translation” (Woodsworth 2009, 100). According to D’Hulst (1995, 22), the historian chooses his approaches according to his research project. In our case, the idea is to gather and interpret elements for a sociological examination of Basque translation and, as mentioned above, we will not dispute the faithfulness of texts (as many historians have done to date; and as we will see in our examination of Basque historiography), nor will we assess texts translated in a different time based on today’s criteria. Our task, having observed the discourse of historiographers, is to describe and contextualize the discourses of Basque literary historiographers and outline the evolution of the representations and their functions in the field of Basque literature.

Just as methodologies have changed over time, so too have concepts. The ways of defining translation itself can also change from one work to another: is everything that is considered a translation a translation? Are adaptations also included in collections of translations? These too are issues that we must address. Thus, we must bear in mind that the concepts and ideas addressed here (literature, translation, and literary translation) have changed. Indeed, the very idea of literary history has been developing and changing over time. Furthermore, as Rubio Tobar states, “Si la noción de historia ha sufrido cambios notables, tampoco el concepto de literatura nos parece hoy una referencia rotunda y precisa. Lo que hoy llamamos literatura, antaño no se consideraba como tal” (2013, 250). This is very clear in our case: “Se trata simplemente de que la literatura vasca se afirma y se reconoce cada vez con mayor lucidez como un sistema semiótico específico y autónomo, distinto por tanto del sistema lingüístico, en el interior del sistema semiótico general de la cultura de un pueblo” (Lasagabaster 2007, 244-245). Similarly, a number of problems have arisen in recent research in attempting to define literary translation. As Lambert summarizes (2009), the use of the term literature itself (or creation, or style, or genre... following many different parameters) is quite new. Academic research has not yet clearly established the boundaries of literature or of any given literature, nor has it defined the links between languages and territories. In general, we accept that these literatures do in fact exist. Thus, in Lambert’s opinion, if literature is bound to a particular language, territory, or nation, translation alone does not necessarily create interactions among traditions. In fact, the concept of translation itself is not universal, and it remains to be defined, for example, just where the boundaries of adaptation or rewriting lie. The status of literary translation is therefore ambiguous, and any research time, research model, criteria, or definitions taken into consideration at a certain moment must be taken into account. As an example, there are also “invisible translations” or what we might call pseudo-translations, that are presented as if they were original works; such phenomena make it difficult to define translation. Nevertheless, there are indicators of a literature’s value and status, and these must be looked at carefully. Thus, another controversy we would like to examine is how literary translation is defined in historiographies of Basque literature or, in other words, to what type of texts (including adaptations and self-translation) can we affix the label of “translation”? In his introduction to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies manual entitled “Literary Translation Practices”, Peter Bush defines and describes literary translation as follows (2009, 127-130): literary translation is an original and subjective activity that has a direct connection with the hierarchies that define literature, and literary translators are part of cultural convergences. Literary translation has a strong tie with the laws of the market. Nevertheless, translation is the fruit of previous readings, and context is fundamental, since many outside agents can have an effect on the translation process and the translator may make use of different translation strategies. In Bush’s words (2009, 130), the translator, therefore, is the agent of a subjective activity, who carries out a creative effort, who makes hundreds of decisions, whatever his or her cultural or social context. Thus, the translator is an agent. He or she is an important figure, but do authors appear as translators in historiographies of Basque literature? If so, who assigns that label to whom, and when?

What do narratives about translation deal with? According to Woodsworth (2009, 101), in order to create a history of translation, one can deal with the practice of translation, or with translation theory, or both. The history of practice examines, among other things, who translated what and under what conditions; the history of theory or discourse, on the other hand, studies what translators have said about their activity as well as the criteria used to evaluate translations in each time period, among other things. In addition to creating a narrative of translation practice or theory (or both), revealing translation data makes visible the discipline itself (idem). That, precisely, is one of our present goals: to reveal the history of translated Basque literature. Given that Basque translation is becoming an autonomous field (Ibarluzea 2017, chapter 3), we believe it is necessary to create an academic historical narrative; that is, to bring together past translation events and situate them according to their corresponding field-strength and according to their structures, capitals and habitus.

As stated above, our aim is to take note of the evolution of Basque translation as a field, and specifically, to consider the position and function it has occupied in the construction of a literary arena. Translation has generally had a bad reputation in history, and various creators consider it a second-rate activity. Furthermore, the content of literary research has also contributed to this poor reputation: a number of texts have remained unexamined until now precisely because they are translations, in the belief that they were nothing but clumsy adaptations (Rubio Tobar 2013, 61). However, in the creation and evolution of national literatures, translation has fulfilled an extraordinary function: in national literatures overall, the creation and evolution of various genres occurred through procedures in foreign literatures (251). Translations, adaptations, and rewritings have been fundamental in national literatures. But, have we taken into account what function these translations/adaptations/regenerations have had within the national literature? Or have we simply mentioned them in historiographies, without explaining what they are? In the opinion of Rubio Tobar, not taking into account the function of translation is intrinsically an impoverishment (296).

Finally, in this paper we wish to examine whether or not the way that discourse in historiographical narrative about Basque literature portrays Basque translation has changed (and if so, how). So, having examined discourses in academic historiographies that present a narrative of the history of Basque literature, we shall discuss the theoretical representations of Basque translation and explain where discourses have placed their focus, as a complement to the history of Basque translation.

3. The development of historiographies of Basque literature and some notes on the corpus of historiographies for the present study

In 2012, Jon Casenave published his work entitled Euskal literaturaren historiaren historia [A History of the History of Basque Literature], and, given the development of 20th-century Basque literature and criticism of literature, his subject is how that development was compiled in historiographies.

As he explains, the historiographical model of Basque literature in use today was established by Mitxelena in the early 1960s. Since then it has expanded and, at the same time, fused with “what was happening in the surrounding culture” (2012, 8). In any case, and again following Casenave, the same model has been used for a long time by writers dealing with the history of Basque literature (2012, 9). Historians of Basque literature embraced the national model and for the first time Koldo Mitxelena made use of its theoretical and historical foundation. With respect to those who came later, as happened in surrounding cultures, the methodological and critical models that were in power were used (2012, 24). In general, historiographers of Basque literature have gone from writing a history of written texts in Basque to writing a history of texts with a certain aesthetic value (2012, 56).

Casenave classifies the history of Basque literary histories into four major periods (2012, 24-53). The first period, 1857-1907, is marked by references and chapters about Basque literature by scholars and philologists from abroad in monographs on the Basque Country (he discusses Francisque Michel and Julien Vinson, who should belong to the French provincial heritage movement). The period from 1920 to 1950 is known as the founders’ period: this was the time of the first general attempts to discuss Basque literature (for example, writings by Lhande, Orixe, and Lafitte, who had an insider’s point of view, compared with the point of view in previous works). The third period begins in 1960 with Mitxelena’s work, Literatura vasca, which presents the national model mentioned above. From the fourth period, in the 1970s and 1980s, we have works created in the practice that stemmed from the influence of the methodologies and theories of human science. Next, from the 1980s on, we see a theoretical update: semiotics, reception aesthetics and theories about readers, sociological theories… have been applied in Basque literature (2012, 77). Three points characterize the “agreed principles” of the new “pattern”: an updated definition of literature, literature as a complex object and the predominance of contemporary creation (2012, 84; 2010, 812)

Since the process of autonomization related to the field of Basque translation occurred together with the autonomization of Basque literature (Ibarluzea, 2017, chapter 3), that is, the development process of literature and literary criticism mentioned above by Casenave, in a sort of parallel mode, we have followed the trail blazed by Casenave, and take note here of the discourse in which writers of historiographies refine the internal viewpoint of Basque literature. Thus, discussion will focus on the historiographies beginning with the period of the founders of historiographies of Basque literature, leaving to one side those written from an external perspective.

We have selected monographs on Basque literature, specifically only those published as books. Therefore, we set aside wider works on Basque culture, volumes of encyclopaedias, histories of only one specific literary genre, articles, and collections of articles. Moreover, we have selected works that encompass the full geographical space of the Basque language, excluding, for example, those that examine the literature of only a single province. Finally, we have chosen historiographies that have a diachronic point of view, that is, not those that discuss solely the literature of one particular period of time.

In cases in which more than one edition exists of the chosen historiographies, or there is a translation of an edition, we have used the most recent version for the present study. Our reason for this choice is the following: the author or researcher had the opportunity to change, correct, and modify the work. In any case, we ordered them according to the year of their first publication, and for that reason two years of publication appear for some titles: first, that of the first version, and second, that of the version used in the present study.

We selected historiographies that were written following methodologies for literary studies; specifically, adopting Casenave’s words, those written according to the national model and those written with an eye to a theoretical-methodological update. However, we also include a historiography from the time of the founders, that by Orixe, in order to be able to carry out a comparison of the times. Examining historiographies from so many different periods, as mentioned above, opens the path for us to examine, age by age, whether the treatment of translation changes, and for us to look at whether any trace of translation-habitus is reproduced.

The following is the list of historiographies we have selected for the present examination of the appearance of translations together with the dates of their editions:

Year of first publication   Edition used in the present study
1927   Orixe (2002): Euskal Literatura’ren atze edo edesti laburra
1960   Mitxelena (2010): Historia de la literatura vasca
1961   Villasante (1979): Historia de la literatura vasca
1971   Sarasola (1976): Historia social de la literatura vasca
1979   Mujika (1979): Historia de la literatura euskerika
1987   Juaristi (1987): Literatura vasca
1996   Orpustan (1996): Précis de littérature basque
2000   Urquizu (2000): Historia de la literatura vasca
2002   López Gaseni (2002): Historia de la literatura vasca
2004   Aldekoa (2008): Euskal literaturaren historia
2012   Olaziregi (2012): Basque Literary History

We have examined these historiographies one by one to see how much space and what kind of space translation has been afforded, taking into account the habitus of the author of the historiography (education, language, literature, and translation), the situation of the historiography in the field (creator/agent, strength/power, purpose, etc.) and the examination of mentions of translations. In the following point, we will review the main conclusions of the research.

4. Evolution of the representation of translation in Basque literary historiographies

At the beginning of this paper we noted that, in Tobar’s opinion, little space has been devoted to translation generally in literary histories (2013, 243). However, as we have seen in the historiographies selected for the purposes of the present work, translation is well documented in Basque literary historiographies, and its representation, that is, the space and discourse devoted to translation, appears in accordance with the literary era in question and the methodological viewpoint of each historiography. Furthermore, as we have seen in our research, historiographers demonstrate many different functions of translation, each according to his or her own point of view and habitus.

References to translation are apparent in literary historiographies, but as we have seen in one historiography after another, references to and evaluations of translation decrease noticeably when historiographers discuss literature from the 20th century on. Furthermore, references to pre-20th-century translations are more detailed in that they are about specific texts and they almost always include linguistic notes. References to translations from the 20th century on, on the other hand, are more general, and comment on groups of translations; such references are more about trends than about translation. As we noted earlier, once a comparative viewpoint began to appear in literary historiographies, the originality of a number of Basque literary texts was called into question and historiographers wondered if they might in fact be translations. Additionally, the more peripheral genres are taken into account, the more references to translation we find.

Regarding what is said about translation, in our opinion it is important to take the various methodologies into consideration. In other words, what thought did Basque historiographers give to the question of which translated texts to include in their work? Orixe (1927), for example, offers no comment about his choices. Mitxelena (1960), on the other hand, makes his position clear from the beginning: rather than a history of the various eras of Basque literature, his is a history of Basque texts, and that is why he gave such thought to all of the texts (including translations) that he selected for his historiography. In his explanations of the translated texts, therefore, he does not cast any doubt on their literary merit. Other authors, however, do cast doubt on the literariness or literary value of translations. Such is the case of Sarasola (1976) and Haritshelhar (in Olaziregi 2012). Mujika (1979) sometimes he ascribes literary value to a text and sometimes he does not, but he does not share his criteria. However, all of our authors include translations in their historiographies. Villasante (1961), for example, expresses doubt about whether he should include them, but it can be inferred from the words that he uses that his a discursive doubt to some extent; he does not offer any deliberate methodological thought on the matter. Sarasola (1976) is the first in the evolution of the historiographies used for the present study to express explicit doubt about including translations in his historiography. However, he justifies having included them by saying that although, in his opinion, translations have no literary value, they are included in his historiography because they are characteristic of our literary system and, indeed, Sarasola (1976) points out that this is not the case in other literatures. Orpustan (1996) also explicitly thinks about the issue and offers two reasons for having included translations: translations are indicators of their time, and they are also indicators of a particular style of writing or dialect. To some extent, the remaining historiographers (Juaristi, 1987; Urquizu, 2000; Aldekoa, 2004) all ascribe various literary values or influences to translations, even though they do not present any specific methodological thought on the matter, whereas López Gaseni (2002) and Olaziregi (2012) do: they explicitly think about including translations in literary historiographies, and in their own historiographies they make space for translation because translation is a subsystem of the literary system.

With respect to representations of translation, for one thing, on the road from literary historiographies being literary histories to being histories of literature (see Toledo 2010), in general, historiographers have gone from not separating translation from creative work to distinguishing between the field of translation and the field of creation; furthermore, literary translation in Basque literature is treated as its own genre in the last two historiographies we examined (López Gaseni 2002 and Olaziregi 2012).

For another thing, in general, historiographers have gone from considering translations from the point of view of their own aesthetic and linguistic tastes (we may recall Orixe’s evaluations, for example) to using the methodological and theoretical discourses that they used to create their historiographies (in translation studies we have seen the rise of examination based on polysystems theory). Orixe (1927), for example, made his comments and evaluations based on his own linguistic tastes, while Mitxelena (1960), on the other hand, looked at the linguistic procedure involved in translation. It is worth mentioning, however, that many historians then made use of Mitxelena’s comments when commenting on pre-20th-century texts. We went from only the linguistic function of translation being mentioned in the first historiographies we examined, to a clear trend of demonstrating other functions in historiographies as we move through time (cultural functions are particularly noteworthy; but not only cultural functions because, in our last historiography, Olaziregi’s (2012), for example, we see that the economic and symbolic functions that translation carries out in the field of literature are also revealed).

As Etxaniz Erle says (2010, 826), the status of the Basque language has influenced the evolution of the Basque literature, and some writer’s main worry was language itself, not literature. This idea is borne out by looking at the presence of translations in literary histories: the representation in historiographies of Basque translation owes much to the situation of translation in the Basque language and the Basque literature. Orixe (1927), for example, considers translation to be evidence of the capability of a language, as well as a tool for arriving at a more precise and scientific Basque. Whether a text was an original one or a translation was not important in Orixe’s opinion; the language itself was the goal. Mujika (1979) presents a similar idea in his historiography: he presents translation as a tool for honing language, and saw greater literary value in creative works compared to translation. Along these lines, translations are evaluated in a number of historiographies in order to reveal “Basque” culture and literature. Villasante (1961), for example, viewed the naturalization of translations or adaptations as a positive thing, and fell on the side of translation creators. Generally, writers and creators are praised in these historiographies. Along the same lines, in Juaristi’s historiography (1987) for example, we see an idea that has persisted until today: that a poet is the best translator of poetry; a creator, that is. Villasante (1961) puts another idea about translation on the table: the translator can more easily take note of form because he does not have to expend any energy on creation. As we see, translation has been considered a formal procedure, and has been evaluated as such in literary histories, as if it were a simple shift from one language to another. As time went on, this point of view certainly changed and, in addition to being seen as a tool for honing language, a number of historiographers reveal that due to translation, a number of areas of literature that had not previously been studied had begun to be studied. This is what Mitxelena (1960) does, for example, when he mentions that the body of secular translations has started to grow. Thus, the literary function of translation begins to appear in Mitxelena’s work. In any case, the theoretical updating of historiographies defined by Casenave happened in earlier historiographies; in almost all historiographies, the linguistic value of translation is praised and the literary value of translation is denied. In Sarasola’s historiography (1971), for example, even though this historiographer accepts translation as a way of legitimizing a certain work, he makes use of certain works being translations to deny the literary value of those translations when comparing them to literary works written originally in Basque. Thus, translation can both praise and deny the value of a literary work. When Sarasola (1971) estimates the number of Basque literary works, he takes translations into account. As mentioned above, however, he explains that they would not be counted in the literary histories of other nations and, in the case of Basque literature, it is because they are characteristics of a literary system of a minority and minorized language.

As we have seen, a number of historiographers have used translation as a tool to complete or complement the repertoire and history of a small and subordinate literary system (even if they do not explicitly say it). In our opinion, the reason for having done this is surely the fact that the primary framework for creating historiographies is a national framework, as Casenave states (2012, 21).

Translations into Basque have been considered elements of Basque literature not only to prove that this literature exists and to justify it, but also to increase the body of Basque texts. However, and as we explain above, more than one author has explicitly suggested that it is permissible to do this. This being the case, we can say that translations into Basque fulfil an obvious symbolic function, at least until (and beyond the point at which) the literary framework started to be autonomized and normalized. Later there came efforts to demonstrate other functions of translation, stemming especially from efforts to look at literature from a systemic point of view or from the viewpoint of comparative literature. In a number of literary historiographies, taking note of various works, doubt is cast upon the boundary between creation and translation and upon the originality of various works, and we begin to see references to many different kinds of literary value (influences, completing and enriching the repertoire, etc.) that might be ascribed to translation.

With respect to translation done from Basque into other languages, beginning in the 1980s references start to appear in literary historiographies. As we saw in our examination of individual historiographies, this trend starts with Urkizu’s historiography (2000), when the historiography is expressly written looking abroad. Olaziregi (2012) in particular integrates references to translations made from Basque into other languages in a systematic way, both in Urkizu’s historiography (2000) and in the one she edited. Furthermore, Olaziregi (2012) contributes references to Basque literature by critics in other literary fields. In our opinion, we see here an effort to widen the Basque literary system through translation or to consider the system to be a wider field.

Similarly, in Urkizu’s historiography (2000), we begin to see that classifications and descriptions of literary trends are also done according to translated works, we see translations for the first time being used as a tool to counter traditional models. As mentioned above, it is in this way that many different functions of translation begin to be demonstrated in historiographies. Indeed, in earlier historiographies especially, although the foundational, pedagogical, and dialectological values of translations were pointed out, in later historiographies other functions also begin to appear. In the case of Olaziregi (2012), for example, the economic and symbolic functions of translations are also recognized. Additionally, in Aldekoa’s work (2004), translations are seen not only as the foundational texts for different genres, but also he shows literary effects through translations done by authors: he mentions them by explaining the connections among the authors’ way of thinking, work, and ideas. Also in Aldekoa’s work (2004), the functions associated with translation are ideological, pedagogical, and literary, not linguistic.

López Gaseni (2002) makes one of the greatest contributions in historiographies regarding the visibility of translation: he includes translation in the literary history edited by Olaziregi (2012) as if it were another genre. Following Even Zohar’s hypotheses, López Gaseni (2002) sees translation as a way of increasing the literary repertoire and, although he accepts the fact that translated literature tends to be peripheral, he tries to show that certain translations hold a central position in certain periods of the history of Basque literature and that they appear at the same level of non-translated texts (López Gaseni 2010, 845).

In López Gaseni’s opinion, the fact that translations have often held a central position in our historiographies must be related to their being closely associated with the power institutions at a certain point in time (idem, 845-846) and calls attention to the need for systemic explanations in these and other cases to show how and why this kind of texts where central, helped to create literary speeches and created or renewed the literary repertoires (idem, 851-852). We agree: there are in the historiographies we examined a great number of issues that could be clarified for the narration of Basque translation history: we believe that examining intralinguistic translations, translations done in times of exile, translations of plays... could bring a new reading to the history of literature and to the history of translation.

Similarly, compared to the detailed notes on translated texts of a certain period of time, trends and relationships among texts still remain to be described, networks to be identified, and the evolution of the field to be demonstrated, for if we look at the evolution of historiographies, those that date from before the methodological upgrade include either only archaeological data or lists of those data. It is true that explanations of translation history and criticism are included more in literary histories from after the methodological upgrade, but from the point of view of translation studies, they go into little detail. Furthermore, as Casenave explains, they focus on the contemporary age given that the criteria for pre-20th-century texts have almost not changed at all in the evolution of historiographies. Along the same lines, as time moves on, historiographers’ evaluations generally disappear and it seems that as notes about the language disappear, so too do notes about translations. This may show that literary historiographers lack the tools to evaluate translations, or that they feel themselves to be part of the literary field and not part of the “field of translation”, since it is paradoxical that as the field of translation becomes more autonomous and visible, its representation in historiographies decreases.

Overall, translations have been counted as literature in order to avoid the problem of a shortage of texts from certain periods of time; indeed, translations have been considered foundational texts of a number of literary genres. With respect to contemporary literature, translation has been spotlighted as a complement to and stimulus of the work of writers and it has been used to situate their work and characterize literary trends.

5. Conclusions

To summarize, we can say that the representation of Basque translation within Basque literature is consistent with the process of autonomization of the field of Basque translation and with the development experienced by translation studies. However, in the present investigation, it is clear in our opinion that this representation is superficial and that it has yet to open to the whole field or to the diachronic examination of the evolution of the field. It is also clear that there is a necessity for a coherent history of Basque literature and translation to be written from the point of view of translation. In other words, in Basque studies viewpoints for looking at translation have withstood the evolution of translation studies, but now it is necessary to establish and follow a research program and carry out systematic studies. For our part, we believe that it is advisable to makes use of the tools that translation sociology provides for such a research program.


BUSH, Peter. “Literary Translation Practices.” In: Mona BAKER (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation studies. London & New York: Routledge, 2009, pp. 127-30.

CASENAVE, Jean. Euskal literaturaren historiaren historia. San Sebastian: Utriusque Vasconicae, 2012.

D’HULST, Lieven. “Pour une historiographie des theories de la traduction: questions de méthode.” TTR: traduction, terminologie, rédaction, 8, 1 (1995), 13-33. Available at http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/037195ar. Accessed September 10th, 2017.

IBARLUZEA, Miren. “Itzulpenaren. Itzulpengintzaren errepresentazioak euskal literatura garaikidean: eremuaren autonomizazioa, literature historiografiak eta itzultzaileak fikzioan.” (Unpublished Ph. D.) University of Basque Country UPV/EHU, 2017.

LAMBERT, José. “Literary translation, research issues.” In: Mona BAKER (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation studies. London & New York: Routledge, 2009, pp. 130-3.

LASAGABASTER, Jose Maria. “Sobre la historia de la literatura vasca: diagnóstico y perspectivas.” ASJU, XLI, 1 (2007), 237-48.

PYM, Anthony. Method in Translation History, Manchester: St Jerome Publishing, 1998.

RUBIO TOBAR, Joaquín. Literatura, Historia y Traducción. Madrid: La Discreta, 2013.

WOODSWORTH, Judith. “History of translation.” In: Mona BAKER (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. London & New York: Routledge, 2009, pp. 100-5.

Historiographies under study

ALDEKOA, Iñaki. Euskal Literaturaren Historia. Donostia: Erein, 2008.

JUARISTI, Jon. Literatura vasca. Madrid: Taurus, 1987.

LÓPEZ GASENI, Jose Manuel. Historia de la literatura vasca. Madrid: Acento, 2002.

MITXELENA, Koldo. “Historia de la literatura vasca.” In: Joseba Andoni LAKARRA & Iñigo RUIZ ARZALLUS (eds.), Luis Michelena. Obras completas. XIII. Historia de la literatura vasca. Literatura vasca del siglo XX. San Sebastian-Vitoria: UPV/EHU & GFA, 2011.

MUJIKA, Luis Maria. Historia de la literatura euskerika. San Sebastián: Luis Aramburu, 1979.

OLAZIREGI, Maria José (ed.). Basque Literary History. Reno: Center For Basque Studies (University of Nevada), 2012.

ORIXE (Nikolas ORMAETXEA). Euskal Literatura’ren atze edo edesti laburra. San Sebastian: Utrisque Vasconiae, 1927.

ORPUSTAN, Jean Baptiste. Précis de littérature basque, Izpegi, 1996.

SARASOLA, Ibon. Historia Social de la Literatura Vasca (trans. Jesús Antonio Cid). Barcelona: Akal, 1976.

URQUIZU, Patricio. Historia de la literatura vasca. Madrid: UNED, 2000.

VILLASANTE, Luis. Historia de la literatura vasca. Burgos: Aranzazu, 1979. 2nd rev. & compl. ed.

© Grupo de Investigación T-1611, Departamento de Filología Española y Departamento de Traducción, UAB | Research Group T-1611, Spanish Philology Department and Translation Department, UAB | Grup de Recerca T-1611, Departament de Filologia Espanyola i Departament de Traducció, UAB